Boise State enters the 2015 season with its fourth offensive coordinator in five years — a wild stretch for an offense that was run by three guys in the previous 13 years (Dirk Koetter 1998-2000, Chris Petersen 2001-05 and Bryan Harsin 2006-10).
Eliah Drinkwitz, 32, was the tight ends coach last year. He was the co-offensive coordinator at Arkansas State under Harsin in 2013. Harsin remains a significant influence on the playbook, so tweaks are more likely than an overhaul.
Drinkwitz admits he feels pressure taking on a storied position. His predecessors are now the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator (Koetter), Washington head coach (Petersen), Boise State head coach (Harsin), Washington wide receivers coach (Brent Pease, who originally left to become the Florida OC), Detroit Lions wide receivers coach (Robert Prince) and Notre Dame offensive coordinator (Mike Sanford).
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“The best thing I have going for me is our head coach is a tremendous leader,” Drinkwitz said. “He’s been a guy I can lean on and ask questions.”
A GAPING HOLE
The Broncos only lost two starters off last year’s offense — but they were involved in most of the playmaking.
Quarterback Grant Hedrick and tailback Jay Ajayi accounted for 89.1 percent of the yards and 92.4 percent of the offensive touchdowns last season.
Sophomore Ryan Finley, the backup last year, replaces Hedrick. He doesn’t have Hedrick’s speed but he is mobile and will give the Broncos a different look. At 6-foot-4, he’s the tallest starter since B.J. Rhode in 2002.
Sophomore Jeremy McNichols leads what could be a committee of tailbacks. He added 10 pounds in the weight room in hopes that he could handle the every-down load.
“I feel like I can do anything coaches want me to do,” McNichols said.
Finley’s transition should be eased by the playmakers at his disposal when he drops back to pass.
Wide receiver Chaz Anderson (21.7 yards per catch), wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck (17.2), tight end Jake Roh (11.7), tight end Holden Huff (12.8) and McNichols (10.3) averaged more than 10 yards per catch last season.
“I honestly think this might be the most athletic group we’ve had in the receiver room since I’ve been here,” said senior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes, who averaged 8.6 yards per catch last year.
BIG GUY, LITTLE GUY
Big guy: Huff (6-foot-6, 226 pounds) looked like a future star as a redshirt freshman in 2012, which he capped with two touchdowns against Washington in the bowl game. But injuries slowed him the past two seasons and he faded into near obscurity. He’s healthy for his senior year and is coming off a strong fall camp. “He’s just such a good technician,” tight ends coach Kent Riddle said. “... And then obviously he’s a big, fast target in the pass game.”
Little guy: Williams-Rhodes was named one of the top “freaks” in college football because of the incredible explosiveness packed into his 5-foot-6, 173-pound frame. He squatted 500 pounds this year. “That’s pretty rare for a guy that size to be able to do that,” strength coach Jeff Pitman said. “And to want to do that is probably the bigger thing.”